17 October 2000
The Soviet 124th MRD wasted no time on the food agreement with Kamiensk. Already this morning, a large detachment met a group of citizens, and they traveled to a far-out abandoned field. The soldiers immediately set-up a perimeter, and the townsfolk gathered the harvest in peace.
The underfed troops of the 124th immediately love this duty, as they eat fruits and vegetables on the spot. They’d even recapture a group of pigs gone feral today.
Bowen cornered Maks, wanting to know more about his plan to meet up with the evacuation at Bremerhaven, and this “alternate” plan he’d mentioned. Maks told him he was now leaning toward Germany evacuation, pending developments in Warsaw, and successful recovery of the train. His backup plan was equally dangerous, if not worse, but it didn’t have a time limit. The ships at Bremerhaven were departing 15 November, less than a month away. Maks promised Bowen he’d get specific closer to their departure, which would be soon.
This seemed to mollify the enigmatic American officer.
Maks had seen Barna Áron looking off to the west, pensive, in the direction of Frankfurt, the big soldier’s home town.
He really wished it would be possible to disembark from here. He was intrigued by Soviet’s local use of railroad, yet couldn’t see how to capitalize on it. Perhaps acquire their expertise and maps?
Indeed, the party was looking at salvaging a museum locomotive and cars back in Warsaw. But it was 150 klicks to the NE. And the salvage location was in contested territory between the Black Baron and the freeholders in Sielce.
The Warsaw factions were in a fragile truce that would last through the winter perhaps. Maks didn’t know how the Baron would react to the train salvage, which would be noisy and obvious.
Maks made radio contact at long last with his crew back in Warsaw. It was relayed through Kraków, and Sandomierz. His people were alright, excepting Elizka, who was still ill. The political situation remained stable.
The Krakow intel section, signing off from the radio relay, said “Kiedy wszedłeś między wrony, musisz krakać jak i one”. It was a Polish aphorism that approximates the English expression “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Maks recalled the Kraków intel section head saying that phrase in the past in reference to assassination. Maybe they thought he’d offed the Markiz?
Maks planned to leave on 19 October for Warsaw. He felt bad about leaving the people here, knowing that Ivan’s food problem was only covered for the short term. But he couldn’t be everything for everyone. It was time to get his people home.
18 October 2000
Maks and crew went out today to labor in the communal harvest. The Americans pretended to be Poles, and the Soviet soldiers were relaxed and happy. They were filling up the Kamiensk citizens’ trucks and farm equipment with alcohol from the division stores. Maks wanted to get their UAZ – doors removed, along with their Silesian insignia on the panels – filled up for the trip back to Warsaw, and he wanted to show his thanks to the town that had sheltered them multiple times.
They’d scarcely returned at the end of the day, when a runner arrived with news that a pair of riders met up with perimeter militia west outside town, claiming to be recruiting Americans left behind as trainers for the Kepno militia.
Maks had his people withdraw to the church in town, Kościół pw. św. Apostołów Piotra i Pawła (Church of Apostles St Peter and Paul). It was their hide when Soviets were in town.
They were soon informed that Kamiensk militia had told the riders that all Americans abruptly left two weeks ago [they’re accustomed to hiding Americans from Soviet patrols]. These riders spoke native Polish, with military haircuts.
The lead rider had even offered ten Swiss 20 Franc Gold Coins or four bottles of oral antibiotic or sedatives as a finder’s fee for American soldier sign-ups. Maks had seen a few of the Swiss gold coins floating around Krakow after the Pope’s visit, but that didn’t mean much.
The riders departed, saying they’ll return in two days to receive any information. Maks intended to be gone by then. The gold was intriguing, but they could hardly be signing up to train militia. And that was assuming these fellows were truly from Kepno.